New Opportunities Can Bring New Challenges

What happens when life’s New Opportunities bring New Challenges? 

Two weeks today, I was sitting in a meeting getting ready to embark on a new opportunity…teaching Theatre classes in addition to my choir classes.  A subject in which, by default of being an opera singer, brings understanding but not necessarily the ability to teach it. Thankfully, I have a bit of background in that and I have a lot of new and old friends that will help me in this new endeavor.

That same day, I noticed an email by the district rep for our department…he was sending a request for some individuals to write an online version of the High School Music Appreciation Course.

Of course I responded! And…so did a number of individuals.

Later that week, I hadn’t heard anything and so I emailed again just to see where things were.

Fast forward to later that day…

I was selected!!

What did this mean? I had assumed that I might be working in a team.


It’s all me. 

We set up a meeting with the district rep for my department and the district rep for Curriculum so they could let me know what I was to expect.

We met last Friday.

Apparently, the course was for students that would be placed on temporary or permanent Home and Hospital Educational Services. The previous course was done in PACKETS! UGH! The curriculum department had been asking why they were still using packets as their only source of education for these students when we had such wonderful resources available to the district. They eventually got their wish.

I am to completely rework the course. Which is a very good thing when I saw what had been done before.  AGHAST, would be best word for my reaction to seeing the previous options.  BORING, is what my own children said when they saw it.

I can use any tech tool I have learned as part of the Ed Tech Endorsement I am in process of getting.  I can use any resource I deem viable.

I just have to make sure there is enough material, the material is engaging and if necessary, most of it can be done without a computer should a student find themselves prohibited from using one because of medical or other reasons.

The deadline for getting everything done is August 1st.  

So, as soon as I got home,  I got to work.  I looked up the state core only to find no course listed for Music Appreciation any longer.  Until this year, we have had a Music Connections course that was the supposed equivalence.  I had assumed they would keep a similar course.  However, the only options this year are: Choir, Instrumental and General Music.  The General Music is divided like the others into three parts.  This is where it changes though.  Where Choir and Instrumental are Level 1, 2, and 3, General Music is: 7th/8th grade, Theory/Composition Level 1, and Theory/Composition Advanced.

Where was I supposed to put a class called Music Appreciation in Theory/Composition at any level?

I was stumped.  However, the individuals I reported to didn’t have enough background to help.  It was up to me to figure out what to do.

This is why I came up with the title:

New Opportunities can bring New Challenges. 

My task was clear…figure out what standards to use and the level of flexibility within those standards in order to provide the opportunities in music to help these students achieve and have fun while doing it.

I decided my best start was going to be with the General Music-Theory/Composition Level 1, simply because the other possibilities just seemed to be out of the question.  The department reps agreed.

So I began unpacking the standards.  

Let’s just say, I got a good start and it’s a good thing I have until August 1st.

I also trolled the internet for suggestions and ideas.  I came across one but the author seems to have stopped blogging.  However, his suggestions and ideas for this class were spot on and in line with what I was thinking.  Although I have to write this course based on what I know generally about the students in our district, and therefore will definitely change some things, I really liked the basis of what he had to say.  Of course, I wish he had finished his thoughts on all of the class units, it definitely gave me a starting point.

What did I come up with?  

Well, the first thing I knew going in was that I didn’t want this class to be like any Music Appreciation class I had ever heard about or read about.  For me, this meant that I had to get rid of the idea that the students had to have knowledge poured into them starting from early music history and go through the ages.  UGH!  So distasteful.

I wanted to provide the students examples of different genres and allow them to do the comparisons themselves.  I wanted them to be making the suggestions and exploring the areas they would be most interested in while still exploring areas I would like them to try.

I put this thought in front of my own children and one of their friends to see what they thought.  I wasn’t sure if this would get a good reaction or not.

To my delight…they loved it.  Maybe it helped showing them what was before but regardless, it seems to be a good idea.

Now…I just need to get to work.

I plan on sharing some of the ideas I come up with and adding them to the blog posts as well as some of the Choral pages I have started so others can maybe use them.

This is definitely a New Opportunity and it is going to come with New Challenges.

But, I am looking forward to it and hopefully, things will be engaging, educationally enlightening and rewarding for myself and all of the students who take the class.